I used to struggle with talking to people. I was shy and hesitant. But my main challenge was that even once I started a conversation, I didn’t know how to keep it going. I’d ask a question, the other person would reply with a word or two, and then I had to come up with something else to say.
Maybe I’d ask how the other person was doing.
Maybe I’d ask what they do for a living.
Or I might make a comment about the weather.
“Pretty hot day, huh?”
Such questions have one main purpose: to find an entry point to the conversation. They probe for something interesting to talk about. They search for a common thread.
The trouble is, the questions fall short on that purpose. It’s too easy to respond with a quick answer – sometimes only one word – that doesn’t give anything to build a conversation upon.
Some people might give you an interesting response, but most likely, you’ll have to come up with another question to keep the conversation moving.
But over time, I found another approach. Make the conversation about the other person right from the beginning. Not only that, make it about something that engages and interests them – something they’ll be more than happy to tell you all about.
Simply ask, “What excites you these days?”
Then you listen. The other person will do most of the talking. Their energy will keep the conversation going.
This isn’t the time to disengage though. It’s the opposite. Listening is an active process. You have to give the other person your full attention. You have to show your engagement with thoughtful questions.
And the more present you are in a conversation, the easier it is to keep going. Since you’re interested, the questions come naturally. You find yourself curious about what they’re saying and wanting to know more. The other person will happily tell you.
The interaction becomes a win for both of you. You get to learn something interesting – finding out about something you may have otherwise never gotten a chance to learn about. And the other person feels valued and respected.
So let me ask you, what are you excited about these days? I want to know. Leave a comment below.